WATCH FOR MONTREAL SINGER-SONGWRITER WHO IS GRACING TORONTO WITH HIS PRESENCE ALL SUMMER
Interview by Kate Fane
Photo credit Liam Maloney
Though you’ve lived (and performed) in London and New York, Montreal is where you call home. What’s the music scene like there for an anglophone musician?
I think, in the last six years, a lot of musicians and artists have moved to Montreal from other parts of Canada. It seems the size of the anglophone music scene has tripled. At the same time, the English and French scenes have been coming together more than ever. I’ve definitely noticed an increase in English and French bands on the same bills. That being said, Francophone performers don’t have to leave Quebec to make a living and English performers obviously do.
What are your thoughts on the ongoing student movement?
I think the protests are inspiring. The freedom of peaceful assembly is my second favourite freedom.
Reviews of your music seem to often remark on the Leonard Cohen connection. Do you think any folk musician from Montreal would get those comparisons, or has he been an inspiration?
I think any folk musician from Montreal would get those comparisons,. But yes, he’s been a huge inspiration to me personally. His lyrics are perfect and if it wasn’t for him and a few others, I’d probably be in a hugely successful rock n’ roll band.
Your music is highly literary and verbose. Do the songs begin as poems, or are they written to the music?
I write the lyrics with a guitar in my hand and try to build everything around a simple melody that will accommodate the words…if that doesn’t work, I steal stuff.
Tell me about your latest album Calendar. What was the recording process like?
It was ridiculously frustrating, really. The whole thing took way too long because I wanted it to be perfect and of course that’s a stupid attitude to have when you’re making a record. I did pre-production with Murray Lightburn from the Dears and then we went into the studio with Adrian Popovitch, I kept bringing in new songs and scrapping older ones etc. Let’s just say that we recorded 3 complete versions of “Modern Love Song” with 2 different producers and ended up going with the first take of the first session. It all ended with an intervention type scenario where the guys basically said, “If you don’t put this out right now, you will never put it out.”
In the end I’m really happy with how it turned out and the response has made it all seem worthwhile.
You’ve played 50 shows in the last 11 months. How does the touring lifestyle suit you?
Lately I’ve been really enjoying playing live. If I could play 300 shows a year I would be a happy man. The answer to this question changes on a daily basis.
What’s next on the horizon?
We are getting ready to record an EP that’s coming out in the fall and booking many more shows. Right now we’re doing full band rehearsals for upcoming shows and trying to grow beards.